Jewish World Review July 6, 2012/ 16 Tamuz, 5772
In search of Mr. Ripe
By Lori Borgman
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Some people spend a lifetime searching for happiness. Some search for wealth and others for fame. Me? I'm searching for one good cantaloupe.
All I want is a cantaloupe that tastes as good on the inside as it looks on the outside. Is that asking too much?
I should have given up years ago, but I can't. Finding a decent cantaloupe has become an obsession.
I've spent a fortune on bad cantaloupe. I don't blame the bad economy for our financial state, I blame bad melons.
I have a knack for picking cantaloupe that fall into one of three taste categories: ones that taste like toothpaste with baking soda, ones that taste like paper and ones that are a high-grade orange mush.
Each and every one is a disappointment, a bad experience. Each and every time I promise to give up the hunt, to let it go, to cut my losses and walk away. Be happy with apples, I tell myself. Peel a banana, I say to myself. Yet, there I am loitering in produce again. Will this finally be the good batch, or is Larry the produce guy about to pull another fast one?
I've seen shoppers pop grapes into their mouths to see if they're any good, but it's not like you can take a bite out of a cantaloupe. You'd have a mouthful of rind, juice smeared on your face and melon pulp running down your front. "No, this isn't quite as ripe as I hoped it would be."
And, yes, I know how to look for a good melon. Look for one that is more yellow than green. Look for one that is spongy on the end when you press it. I watched a woman so thoroughly examine a cantaloupe the other day that if she'd been wearing a white coat and a stethoscope she could have billed the melon for a physical.
"Looks like you found a good one," I said.
She put in her cart and said, "Who knows. It could be awful."
I stalk cantaloupe at produce stands as well. Last year a man guaranteed me that the melon I paid an outrageous price for would be the greatest melon of the summer. He even said to come back if it wasn't. It was a lousy melon; it tasted like soap. I went back but he was busy selling a woman the Brooklyn Bridge.
My brother-in-law brought a fabulous watermelon to a family gathering recently.
"Great melon," the crowd exclaimed.
"You never know," he said. He bought it at a Polish market in Chicago where a fellow shopper volunteered that she knew how to tell a good melon because she was from Mississippi.
Why do we always believe Southerners know things the rest of us don't? They grow rocky ford melons in Colorado, but we'd never gush that a woman from Denver revealed the secret to finding good melons. It doesn't have the same mystique.
The woman said everybody in Mississippi thumps a watermelon to see if it sounds hollow. My brother-in-law asked the woman if that was really how she could tell a watermelon was ripe.
She said she didn't really know; she never buys them.
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JWR contributor Lori Borgman is the author of , most recently, "Catching Christmas" (Click HERE to purchase. Sales help fund JWR.) and I Was a Better Mother Before I Had Kids To comment, please click here. To visit her website click here.
© 2012, Lori Borgman
© 2012, Lori Borgman